Well well well, if I didn’t pick up a copy of a wee little bad car accident of a book called “The Rules” which teaches women how to bag a man and lure him to the altar by…wait for it…that old tradition of playing hard to get. It was brought to me by a beloved client, who asked or my honest opinion on whether she should be subscribing to its maxims. I offered to take a look. And a half hour later I was still sitting at my desk in my running gear, not having left the house awe struck by the substance of the guidance as much as the literary merit with gems like “We don’t know why it works it just does!” To explain why all women should wear straight long hair, hoop earrings, big sunglasses, mini skirts and heels. “Mom, are you still reading that book? Go for your run already”. I was saved by my gal, Victoria. But since that morning it has been haunting me. The sheer audacity of it. The rules have been running circles in my head, double daring me to emanate elusiveness, text with a spreadsheet, and flip my breezy hair while laughing indifferently whether I want a man or not, because I am an A student who is not going to back down from a challenge.
I am at a loss as to where to dig in first.
But here are some first principles.
Because friends, this book has sold an OBSCENE number of copies.
These women have a consulting biz offering hands on for get him wrapped.
Get him to chase you. Don’t share much information or talk much. Be mysterious. End a date first. Don’t answer phone calls. Dress like a model.
Let’s talk about the very notion that “we” as women need to arm ourselves against “your” need to chase us, a ball, or whatever else stirs up your testosterone, and the inevitable heart ache it will cause us when we bore you (men) with our verbosity and emotional depth and get off track from eliciting you to chase us, the shiny ball that we aspire to be. It’s not a very flattering portrayal of either gender.
Do I want to crawl into bed Mrs. Mazel style while my man dozes and tie up my hair and cream up my face to spare him my imperfection? I mean honestly, it’s not about the makeup, I like my mascara, it’s about the AFFECTATION. The pretense. Affectation simply engenders more affectation, meaning games beget games, falsity begets falsity. It is a bottomless pit.
By the time I spend my say, year time line, being “a creature like no other”, texting on schedule, saying very little so as to not overwhelm his capacity and tolerance for information do I even still exist? WHO is actually donning a white gown and posing for photos on my wedding day? Have I met this woman? If you read my musing about crazy behaviour from last week, is this not like luring a man with a fake profile, only by becoming the Unicorn version of your real self? And is that not actually as crazy as it gets, sort of like a plastic surgery addiction, but for the insides?
After reflection I will say this, that I BELIEVE THAT FOLLOWING THESE RULES WILL GET YOU A MAN. But so will the resurrection spell from Practical Magic, where Sandy Bullock and Nicky Kidman bring back the tequila swilling dark heart Johnny Angel, after the aunties have warned them that he may return as something “unnatural”. But hey when you have Nicole’s beauty you look hot even when you are possessed by an abuser and writhing around the floor sucking souls for an evil laugh, that being the end goal and all.
And then congratu-effin-lations, because I have just landed a partner who needs to be eluded, and so what happens when I am no longer elusive, which guess what, I am not going to be able to keep up when we cohabitate so then WHO IS HE GOING TO CHASE??? Should we maybe entitle this book How to date a cheater? How to spend the foreseeable future in a codependent relationship with your partner’s emotional avoidance? Now I am left to follow a second set of rules for this part of the action, for keeping my prize. I’m going to need a nap because that is a lot to take on. No wonder marriage is ‘hard work’.
Let’s just consider this for a moment. I agree that in the initial stages of dating we don’t want to overshare. Not because we as women don’t want to trouble the male brain, but for all genders, we want to nurture along the connection we feel with our new date, or allow an opportunity to form one if we have met online or via a matchmaker. That won’t happen if it becomes all about the past. Also, it’s very hard to fairly express the challenges we may have faced in our past relationships. It’s hard to perfectly understand them within our own minds, let alone to meaningfully share that understanding with another, and not have it come across as confusing, critical, and painful. It may send a message about us that we are not intending, or trigger something for our date that we are not intending. And where all past trauma is concerned, we do not OWE anyone a history, or an explanation, unless it will have a direct impact on them such as a health concern. But even if I have a genetic disorder and my life expectancy is shorter than the average Jane, that is not date one material, that is a few dates in before anyone is too invested, or in some cases something to include in a profile as a heads up, but early on topics of conversation should be conducive to relating and building connection with your new person.
Sure it is fair to say that women tend to share more than men. We hash it out more, we call our besties and our hair dresser and get a chime in. But let’s look at the anecdotal example of the girl who meets a smart man and they talk and text and converse enthusiastically and are intellectually attracted to each other, and then one day he ghosts her, blocks her from social media. The rules coaches say that was her mistake! Too much communication. She fried his man simple can’t handle communication synapse. Are we serious here?!!! This man wasn’t willing to be vulnerable. There are many out there in all genders who go all in and then ditch. If we want to tell all genders hey pace yourself, or beware of too much intimacy too fast, sure there is merit to that. But that is very different from paring down your communication to be light and breezy and not provoke depth of discourse or emotional engagement so that you “get” him to commit.
There is something fundamentally sexist and well just basically shitty about telling a gender to correct for their gender attributes in order to be acceptable to the other gender, to boot. It is one thing to suggest some sensitivity to differences. Fair, he might not want to dig in as much as she to an emotional matter. Our hormones and hard wiring are not exactly the same. There are also differences that are gender role related and socially conditioned. The truth is we actually need to be LESS scared of tricky emotions as humans of all genders. And to mold ourselves into creatures of mystique so as to avoid it all is a recipe for a constant heartache in order to avoid a potential short term one.
It seems to me that “The Rules” teach women how to find themselves married to an emotionally immature or avoidant man, by avoiding conflict or emotional engagement and making the relationship dynamic all about him. And that happens the second we move from a model of how to show up in a healthy way, to a model of how to lure and be alluring.
The REAL PROBLEM, and THE REAL ANSWER, AND THE REASON THIS BOOK SOLD SO MANY COPIES AND IS SUCH A DRUG FOR THE FEMALE BRAIN?
Well that is a no brainer. It feels scary when like or are invested in someone and we aren’t getting the response we want from them, or when we feel like we want more than they do, or when we see or feel an amazing connection but can’t seem to get follow through, and The Rules is like Tylenol for vulnerability. It gets into woman’s head by giving them a false sense of power over a very triggering and dis-empowering experience!!! But it’s not real power, gals. Yes, it is okay to want to be pursued. We can be pursued and still be equals in a relationship. Romantic connection is different than economics and we don’t have to go into a relationship with a “do it all” mentality. It’s okay to be in the feminine receptive side of our personalities (we all have them across genders) and to allow a partner to compliment that side with the equal opposite side regardless of gender. BUT manipulation and affectation are the opposite of true receptivity where we surrender our need to control and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and soft. And the ONLY answer to feeling triggered is to get really healthy within ourselves and answer what we are needing emotionally. That is what will make the difference between sending out those “NEEDY” vibes and not. This happens across gender BTW. It has the potential to feel extra embarrassing for a “woman” because socially we shame emotional pain and need, which drives it deeper and makes it harder to solve, so if we are the more communicative or emotionally tuned in we are often called sensitive or dramatic, which lands us feeling ashamed while simultaneously feeling compelled to solve the need.
To which I want to tell all y’all: There is no shame in feeling invested or wanting a response or liking or loving someone. Rom coms don’t sell half assed love. We want to feel and invest and engage. Where it goes off is that there are needs within in us that blend with fears and ideas that are toxic and we need to sort that shit out so that we don’t feel compelled to ask another person to solve it for us. And when we truly dig into this we will emit the emotionally safe vibe (which the ‘rules mystique’ emulates) but it will be genuine because we will actually FEEL safe, and we will say and do the things that will get us a healthy relationship, if the other person is able to meet us there. The same healthy vibes that will cause it to blow it up if they are not. WHICH IS ACTUALLY WHAT WE WANT. We want it to blow up at month 3 if they are not available to go deeper. That is how we avoid losing twenty years to a painful empty marriage.
Understand that his or her sabotage or avoidance or unavailability is not yours to solve or own and you are POWERLESS OVER IT. But that doesn’t mean you have to be dis-empowered by it.
I came across a client fifteen or so years ago who had subscribed to a version of rules for men, although I have no idea what the source was entitled and whether it was an actual book. But it taught manipulation. It taught him how to wield power, essentially with mind games. It was ugly. I could feel the pain leaking out with his words. Because essentially the message to him was “whatever you have deep inside yourself is not enough to be worthy of attraction or love so you’ll have to resort to dishonesty”. He was not happy and I helped him understand exactly why not. When he came back to me a few months later, oh my goodness gracious he was lovely. Kind charming smart. He physically looked more attractive because the vibe he was putting out was self loving and accepting and gracious and calm. AND he had met a creative, intriguing beautiful woman and started a relationship with her. That was a heart happy moment for me.
Let us draw the natural conclusion of a world where all women wear mini skirts heels and long straight hair with hoops, it’s a slight variation on The Handmaid’s Tale, me thinks. Like a modern harem-training where we are bred to be attractive to the male brain and we are calling that a recipe for happiness. Do we want to be a unicorn at the expense of our humanity, and is that actually empowering women or men or humans or donkeys even? Lord no.
Can we tease a few good bits out of The Rules self help? Well I think there are areas where they overlap in result with basic emotional health principles:
- I am not going to overshare because it’s not healthy to overshare.
- I am not going to be hanging over my crush’s every word and attention because I have inner fulfillment.
- I am going to have things going on in my life because I am engaged in life.
- I am going to be vulnerable because I want a meaningful relationship.
- I am not going to dominate a relationship dynamic because I want an equal partnership.
- And if a person ghosts or avoids or seems less than fully present I am going to throw that fish back because I am choosing to cultivate a healthy emotional dynamic in a relationship and not everyone will show up with that level of readiness or maturity.
- And you know what, regardless of what gender you identify with, if you feel really super intense five minutes into a relationship, you probably need to work some of that out for yourself so as to not come in swinging a bat or solving problems that aren’t there.
But as soon as you go down the rabbit hole of affectation, as soon as we throw emotional truth under the bus well we know that the House always wins the long game, right?
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m popping over the mall to get me some hoops and some stilettos. If you need me text me and I’ll get back to you with a one line answer within twenty four hours, unless you send a paragraph then maybe I’ll send two lines, OR maybe I won’t because I am Rhiannon and I rule my life like a bird in flight *tosses silky mane over shoulder with easy breezy beauty and disappears in cloud of mist.
— Love Erin
P.S. You’ve been asking me how to get your friends and loved ones the help I’ve been able to give you. We can do that. Contact me and we’ll talk details.
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